USO as different courts


In 1977, the USTA decides that clay is working really well for the USO. In spite of Borg's losses in the 3 years, they decide to keep it around as they think Borg will eventually win the American slam as well. After a couple more tries, he succeeds. In 1979, Borg completes the Calendar Year Grand Slam and is heralded as the GOAT moving forward, playing for a good number more years and cementing his claim as the greatest with 16 slams. He is seen as the greatest champion of clay courts, the most prominent court in the game.

The USTA keep the court type until current day. There are now 2 clay court slams, 1 grass court slam, and 1 hard court slam (AO quickly rising up as players and tournaments enjoy hard courts as a refreshing change of pace).

Nadal breaks through at Roland Garros, just like Borg, but even better on clay. However, he finds out the same thing that Bjorn did. The clay court surfaces are not the same. The USTA uses a finer clay, which becomes compact and more similar to hard courts as play progresses. The courts start off as ideal for Nadal, but after several rounds they more resemble hard courts than the clay courts that Nadal excels on. This contributes to Nadal's early losses in 2005 and 2007 (he makes the R16 and QF respectively), but he does manage the final in 2007. Unfortunately, the tough 5 setter goes Federer's way this time.

By 2008, though, Nadal becomes a monster. Each year he's the odds-on favorite for both RG and the USO. Apart from a few injury absences, Nadal racks up 4 wins there by 2014. Another 3 come in 2017-2019. Nadal proves himself the greatest of all time with a final tally like this:
Rafa: 2 AOs, 13 RGs, 2 Wimbledons, 7 USOs = 24 slams
Federer: 6 AOs, 1 RG, 8 Wimbledons, 3 USOs = 18 slams
Djokovic: 9 AOs, 2 RGs, 6 Wimbledons, 4 USOs = 21 slams

Federer/Djokovic are seen as similar. Both at similar clay levels, and Djokovic about as good on hard court as Federer is on grass and vise versa. Still, both heavily behind Nadal in the race.
TTW keeps erupting about "What if there were 2 HC/Grass slams? Djokovic/Federer would have 26 slams and Nadal would only have 19!"

In another universe, the USTA never changes court types. They remain a grass tournament, since tennis has always been played on grass. To not tarnish the legacy, it remains that way. Once again, Borg is ecstatic. He starts winning the US Open fairly soon and becomes the undisputed GOAT after 1979, where he matches Laver's CYGS. Grass remains king.

Federer breaks through quickly after his 2003 Wimbledon title. He feels at home on the USO's fast grass, but still struggles a bit in his early career. He gets the hang of it soon (2004), and overall little changes actually - apart from (unpopular opinion) 2005, where a Nadal that's clearly showed his HC prowess at Canada and is about to win Shanghai somehow takes down Roger this year on the grass (Realistically speaking, Federer loses at least 1 of the 5 from 2004-2008, given Nadal's grass form, so I chose this one. It could've also been 2007 or 2008). Federer still loses the 2009 USO to a peaking Delpo (the fast court a boon for the large guy), and switches places with Delpo in the 2012 Olympics, getting a bronze medal instead of silver. In 2010 and 2011, Federer doesn't lose the match against Djokovic from 40-15 up and wins 2011 in the final against Nadal. In 2012, he makes the semifinal after a 5-setter against Berdych but loses to Murray in a tight 5th set, but this is what Djokovic needs to win the match - taking a tight 1st set and closing it out in 4.

Federer still loses 2014 (almost sticks it out against Cilic but loses in a 5-setter), loses 2015, then beats Delpo on the grass in 2017 (beating Nadal the next round as well), then repeats this achievement in 2019 (finishing off Dimitrov/Medvedev/Nadal in a row). Additionally, Djokovic doesn't lose the 2013 USO, as he finishes Gasquet more quickly and is better on the grass than Nadal is this year. He doesn't lose 2016 USO to Stan. He ends up losing it to Murray. Djokovic also doesn't lose 2021 to Medvedev, as Medvedev is noticeably worse on grass than hard court. And finally, he wins the 2020 edition because PCB doesn't end up making it to the 4th round - he loses R2. Djokovic never ends up disqualified.

As of now, the slam tally looks like this:
Federer: 6 AOs, 1 RG, 8 Wimbledons, 7 USOs = 22 slams
Djokovic: 9 AOs, 2 RGs, 6 Wimbledons, 7 USOs = 24 slams
Nadal: 2 AOs, 13 RGs, 2 Wimbledons, 2 USOs = 19 slams

Djokovic is seen as a huge grass star, right behind Federer. Still, many complain that Federer was already declined by the time they faced each other. Others say Federer was lucky to have been in a weak competition era before Djokovic arrived on grass. Weak era arguments rage on both sides.
Djokovic fans also brings up "What if there were 2 HC slams? Djokovic would have 27 slams and Federer would only have 20!", but Nadal fans put out other kinds of threads:
"Grass and hard court are too homogenized - clay is the only distinct slam surface nowadays" and "If there were 3 clay slams and 1 HC/grass slam, Rafa would have 41 slams and Djokerer would have 11 each"

Keep in mind, these scenarios are only 1 way it could go - there's millions of ways it could play out, but I just picked out a couple to illustrate the general idea of what I wanted to say.

People don't want to see multiple instances of the same slam. The USO and AO only work because they play differently fundamentally. If it was the same, it would be predictable and more people would mention that the strategy at both of those slams is the same. We don't see that, we see variation (quite a lot of it) in these two slams, and that makes one quite different than the other. Similarly, you should expect that from any other slam that appears - it'll be fundamentally different from the one it's most similar to. Who knows? Djokovic has 3x fewer slams at USO than at AO - who's to say Federer wouldn't have 3 USOs if it were on grass, or Nadal wouldn't have 4 USOs if it were on clay? It's all hypothetical, and we all overrate our favorites in hypotheticals.

The Blond Blur

A 2nd clay schlem :unsure: